Man scores big in Briggs Hardware auction

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- After 150 years in business, it was the end of the road for Raleigh's Briggs Hardware store Saturday as its inventory was auctioned off.

Owner Evelyn Murray announced in June she was closing down - ending an era for a Raleigh institution that has been around since the closing days of the Civil War.

Saturday's event was an auction for the ages. One-by-one, items and artifacts were sold off, some of them more than 200 years old.

Raymond Beck, a retired state archives worker, currently lives in Tennessee but came back to Raleigh for the auction. He recognized the value of specific items linked to key Raleigh buildings. He said some of the priceless items are headed to a new home here in Raleigh.

"I know of very few 19th century capitols that are standing today that can claim to have any of the tools that were used to construct them," Beck said.

That's why he returned for the event. Among his new acquisitions are carpentry tools that came from between 1833 and 1840. He also got some of the early ledger books, which he said will be invaluable to people who live in Oakwood or elsewhere in Raleigh.

The owners of the business moving into the building applauded Beck's successful bids. They said it was wonderful and that the items should be in a museum so people can see the history of the city.

Beck said the items will soon be in a museum where Briggs Hardware got started 150 years ago.

"The city museum now occupies the original building, which was the first skyscraper in Raleigh!" said Beck.

He said before he returned to Raleigh that he got in touch with the state archives, which authorized his bids on their behalf.

He didn't say exactly how much he spent to win the iconic items.

"A little over budget, but for a good cause," he added.

He plans to deliver the items to the state on Monday.

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